Soft Focus on Shallow Depth

rhododendron blooms
Rhododendron blooms. Darkroom print. Silberra 25 film.

Sometimes it feels as if I have a fighting spirit, with no justified cause. What justified cause there may be now, involves staying home. And gardening. Wasting less. Producing, consuming, and investing with conscience. Nurturing.

Problem being that I was not raised to nurture. Schooling and competitive culture both channeled into a loop of run, hunt, and exploit.

Nurturing seems right, especially now, but feels unsettling. How do I fight by doing less or nothing, and if active, no harm? On a superficial plane, I get it. But I don’t know how to be this way.

This is why I take one day each week, as a Secular Sabbath Day. I read theology, philosophy, sacred texts. Myths, and natural origins. I’m trying to learn how to be nurturing and adaptive.

Rationalism doesn’t quite fit. This could be ineffable. So, faith? I don’t know. My ignorance is a ghost, that I had better learn to accept and be friendly with.

Patience

coffee vendor sits in his van waiting for customers
Coffee vendor waits for customers. Morioka-shi, Iwate, Japan. Nikon FE2 and Silberra 50 Orta black and white film. November 2019.

Devotion to craft and service. Making a lot out of small spaces. Do one or a few simple things right. There is much to learn from how small business makes its way in Japan.

Working Man

Portland Oregon black and white film street photography by Paul Ottaviano
Andrew, assistant for Baseline Surveying. Nikon FE2, TriX 400 Film. Portland, OR.

 

Andrew came across as one really good person. We met shortly before I snapped this street portrait of him, working as a surveyor assistant in NW Portland.

He found my old Nikon FE2 camera fascinating. I was delighted by his surveying equipment. There are many different photographies, a lot of ways to use light to make a picture. So, in a way, we were two comrades in photography outside working for the day.

Andrew is new in town. He moved to PDX from Austin, TX. He likes it a lot better here. The pace suits him and he thinks people are friendlier. Interestingly, he had no problem finding a job.

“There are A LOT of jobs here (in comparison to Austin),” said Andrew. “The south is just getting too damn hard to find work.”

Contextually, his statement was a curiosity to me. We hear a lot about how Oregon is allegedly a bad place for business and jobs.

In PDX, so many people relocate here for either a tech job in the Silicon Forest or to pursue something creative. The pickings for the creatives is often slim. Portland is a tough job market, in some respects, particularly for professional endeavors. Like most everywhere, we do have an underemployment and homeless problem.

Gentrification is also an issue in Portland. Andrew surveying – presumably for an architecture firm – in NW Portland, a place he unlikely can afford to live in, was irony not lost on me.

But, Andrew is right. There are jobs around, if a person is willing to work a trade. It might not pay the most or lead to a swanky downtown apartment. But, for something like surveying, it’s an honest living and for Andrew this is more than okay. I was reminded of honor in labor. It was refreshing to meet someone like him.